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The face of a disaster: One week of shaking; Japan Tohoku Earthquake 2011 日本 9級 大地震

When the increasing intensity and frequency of earthquakes in Northern Japan started to remind me of the foreshocks of the Loma Prieta Quake that hit the Santa Cruz, CA area in 1989, I started gathering earthquake intensity data from the Japan Meteorological Agency. A few days later--March 11, 2011--the earth's axis shifted when an off-the-scale quake jolted Northern Japan.

I continued to gather the data for a few days to monitor the intensity and frequency of the aftershocks, then compiled the data into an animation. Although the media tended to focus on a single major event (9.0 quake off the coast of northeastern Japan), this animation illustrates the disaster as a series of inter-related events over a brief period of time to show how patterns emerge from chaos to suggest predictability--something that you chaos theoreticians should be able to appreciate.

Note: Please accept my apologies for the six minute length of this animation; but, you will be watching the events of six days of quakes we experienced in northern Japan compressed into one-second increments. Otherwise, enjoy the bird's-eye view.

Here is the animation:

And here are my questions:

  • In this animation, I have shown only six days of data from eons of time and massive amounts of data. If we track such data over extended periods of time, would we be able to identify patterns that suggest predictability?
  • Just as this animation suggests a series of inter-related earthquake events, how is such a major event connected with climate, social, and biological systems?






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